This vote was on a motion that would have brought up for consideration a budget proposal advocated by a group of conservative senators.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) was the prime author of the budget proposal, which aimed to eliminate the federal budget deficit over an 8-year period by making deep cuts to federal programs not related to national defense. Sen. Toomey’s proposal was similar to a well-known and controversial plan advocated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), except that its spending cuts would have been larger. Like Rep. Ryan’s plan, Sen. Toomey’s budget would have repealed President Obama’s health reform law, changed Medicare for future beneficiaries from a guaranteed insurance plan into a voucher program, and altered the Medicaid program to provide states with less funding and more freedom to reduce benefits or raise eligibility standards.
Sen. Toomey argued that his budget proposal would make tough but critically needed changes to bring the nation’s budget into balance.
“This is a solvable problem,” Sen. Toomey said of the federal deficit. “All we need to do is cut out some of the excess, restructure certain programs, and allow the government spending to grow. It just cannot grow quite as rapidly as it is currently projected to do. If we get that under control, we can put ourselves on a sustainable path."
Opponents of the motion to consider Sen. Toomey’s budget argued that the Senate did not need to pass a budget resolution because a law passed the previous year had already laid out a budget for Congress to follow. In addition, they argued that Sen. Toomey’s proposal favored wealthy individuals and corporate interests over low- and middle-income Americans.
“This is another unbalanced plan. There is very little in the way of revenue to reduce deficits and debt, but (the budget proposal includes) deep spending cuts in priorities such as education and energy,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) said. “This cuts $3 trillion in health care by ending Medicare as we know it and by block-granting Medicaid, holding hostage those who are the most vulnerable among us, children and the disabled.”
The motion to bring up Sen. Toomey’s budget proposal was defeated by a vote of 42-57. Voting “yea” were 42 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 53 Democrats and 4 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to bring up for consideration a budget proposal advocated by a group of conservative senators.